Fifty years ago today, on a Friday like today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. If you know any folk more than fifty, you will often hear them talk about knowing where they were when the president was shot.
I will be honest, I do not have a clear memory of where I was. I was only seven at the time. World and even U.S. politics were not foremost in my mind. I believe I was in class in school when the teacher informed us. Perhaps it came as an announcement over the school P.A. system. I do not really know. But I do remember that it was a dark day. There was a feeling that something was wrong, and that things were going to change in sad ways.
For me, my concern was the goal the president had given us. Would we still go to the Moon? I so dearly wanted us to go there. Would all that end because the President was no longer with us? The assassination and all the turmoil tuned me into politics and current events more than I had been. I remember watching the funeral procession. I remember watching as Oswald was shot days later. I learned that these people in large places were important. I was still watching five years later when Martin Luther King was murdered, and two months later when Robert Kennedy was killed. I learned that the world was crawling with bad people who have a complete lack of tolerance.
We did go to the Moon, and I was still watching. That day was a triumph for all of humanity, for the U.S., and in my mind for President Kennedy as well. He sent us there. He put us all on that path, a path that benefitted every last one of us. His vision and motivation moved the nation. Some would argue that it was merely a response to the Soviets, a march into the Cold War. It may have been, but it was the most peaceful and visionary approach to a war that there could be. His ability to drive us toward that goal brought us the communication age, the technology revolution, and science beyond our imagination on that day, that dark day when a bright light was blown out.